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MMA Roundtable: What's Next for Tito Ortiz and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira?

Looking back at this past Saturday's UFC 106,'s Ben Fowlkes and I discuss the hot topics coming from the big fights.

We look at what the future has in store for Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz, worthy opponents for Georges St-Pierre, Amir Sadollah's performance against Phil Baroni and the next step for Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

Check it out below.

What can Tito Ortiz accomplish with what remains of his career?

Mike Chiappetta: Coming up on his 35th birthday and with a long history of wear and tear on his body, Ortiz is no longer an elite fighter. He is, however, still a draw. There are two options here. First, the UFC can place Ortiz in a series of bouts with name fighters like Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture and even Forrest Griffin. Nostalgia sells, all these men have history together, and the combined presence of the two will mean more than Ortiz against a random name. The other option is matching him up with young lions like Jon Jones and Ryan Bader on the theory that a win will suddenly vault him back into contention while a loss will elevate the younger fighter to star status. Ortiz himself needs to determine if his back will ever be truly healed enough to make him a factor at the highest levels. His durability and experience will always make him a difficult fighter to stop, but those two traits alone don't win fights. His passion to continue is commendable, but he needs to face his future with his brain, not his heart. If Ortiz is going to stick around, however, he needs to stop complaining about his injuries after every fight.
--'s Ben Fowlkes

Ben Fowlkes: Accomplish is a funny word here. It implies tangible achievement, perhaps in the form of a big shiny belt. Ortiz would tell you that that's what he's planning on, but I don't see it happening. He's firmly in the crafty veteran category right now. He can give almost anyone a fight, but he can't win the big fights against the elite opponents anymore. The rematch with Griffin was proof of that. He's still good at taking people down and grinding away at them, but he's no real threat on the feet and he lacks the explosiveness he once had. A UFC championship just isn't in his future.

Personally, I'm fine with seeing him go the nostalgia route. Why not fight Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture again? Neither of them are up to much else anyway. There's definitely a place in the UFC for fights that are entertaining, even if they aren't particularly relevant to the title picture. If Ortiz is going to stick around, however, he needs to stop complaining about his injuries after every fight. Either you're healthy enough to fight or you're not. Everybody comes in with nagging injuries, but nobody really wants to hear about yours once the fight's over.

Which AKA teammate is more deserving of a rematch with Georges St. Pierre first: Josh Koscheck or Jon Fitch?

Chiappetta: This is a tough call, because Fitch is 2-0 since losing to GSP while Koscheck is 5-2. I, however, would give the nod to Fitch, particularly if he beats Mike Pierce next month at UFC 107. Either man, of course, still has to wait in line behind current No. 1 contender Dan Hardy.

In some ways, I still think Koscheck would be the tougher matchup than Fitch because of his superior wrestling, but the guy who hasn't lost is more deserving. One other factor: facing one common opponent, Koscheck lost to Paulo Thiago, while Fitch beat him. Either way, either man would be a significant underdog to GSP. Then again, everybody would.

Fowlkes: I'm not terribly impressed with Fitch's 2-0 run since the loss to GSP. He won two plodding decisions against two guys very far from the welterweight top ten, and he didn't look spectacular in either one. Fitch is a good wrestler, but his striking is just perfunctory and he's not much of a finisher. Koscheck, on the other hand, has knockout power to complement his grappling skills. That makes him the more interesting opponent in my book, and he's definitely done more than Fitch to earn it.

Think about it, since losing to GSP Koscheck has faced nearly all of the UFC's viable welterweight contenders (except for his AKA buddies, of course). He got beat by a very tough Thiago Alves, and lost via a fluke one-punch KO in a fight he was winning against Paulo Thiago. Neither of those help his case, but he's beaten enough quality fighters to prove that he deserves another go with St. Pierre.

Who would you like to see Antonio Rogerio Nogueira fight next?

Fowlkes: Ideally, I'd love to see Little Nog jump right into the light heavyweight title picture with a fight against a top five opponent. The problem is, the UFC's 205-pound division is in a bizarre holding pattern right now. The belt is going anywhere until Machida and Rua have their rematch in May, "Rampage" Jackson may or may not be gone for good, and Rashad Evans has to settle for a bout with Thiago Silva instead of his TUF grudge match. If Nogueira is willing to wait, I wouldn't mind seeing him take on the winner of the Silva/Evans clash. With the title on the shelf for a little while, why not let the light heavyweight contenders distill into one undeniable top contender? By blasting through Luiz Cane at UFC 106, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira announced himself as a viable title threat.
-- FanHouse's Mike Chiappetta

Chiappetta: By blasting through Luiz Cane at UFC 106, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira announced himself as a viable title threat. Unfortunately for him, many fans aren't aware just how good Cane is and how impressive the win is, so he will need another victory or two over a name fighter to get himself into the championship mix.

In my mind, the most intriguing possibility is Rich Franklin, who has been enjoying a well-deserved extended vacation after four fights in a 12-month stretch. Franklin's manager JT Stewart told FanHouse after UFC 103 that Franklin was planning to take the rest of the year off, but he may be ready to fight again sometime in March or April. If Franklin's not available, how about Forrest Griffin?

Was Amir Sadollah's win over Phil Baroni a sign that he has a real future, or that Baroni doesn't?

Fowlkes: A win over Phil Baroni, who hasn't beaten a name opponent in years, isn't the stepping-stone to greatness. But I was encouraged by how polished Sadollah seemed, and you've got to be pleased by how well his chin held up during the first couple minutes of the fight, though with his youth and inexperience it's still hard to know what his future holds.

Baroni's future, on the other hand, is more certain. He's the most predictable fighter in MMA. You always know that he's going to fight like an angry bull for the first three minutes of any fight, and if his opponent is still standing after that he gradually runs out of steam until he's little more than a punching bag. To his credit, he has a ton of heart and can take a shot with the best of them, but I'm not sure that's enough to warrant his continued presence in the UFC.

Chiappetta: I'm still of the opinion that it's too early to extract anything of significance about Sadollah's future from his three pro fights. The one thing that we have seen in him is grittiness. He's always fought well from behind, overcoming bad situations against both CB Dollaway and Baroni. His standup looks to be improving, and his ground game has always looked good. The long-term questions with Sadollah as he moves up the ladder will be durability and firepower. Will he be able to withstand the attacks of top level fighters, and does he have the skills and strength to surpass them? All of that is yet to be seen.

As for Baroni, he'll always have a dangerous right hand and a dangerous opening flurry, but for whatever reason, his history of gassing out continues to be a hindrance that has proven difficult to overcome. Baroni is just 4-6 in his last 10 fights and has struggled with upper-tier competition. He'll always be exciting to watch, but nearing 35 years old, he has an uphill task in turning his fortunes around.

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